Our very first vintage.
As we did not have our own winery at this time, the wine was vinified at Alain Chabanon's winery and then matured in barrel for 18 months at Domaine de Ravanès, where it was bottled by (as specified on the label) 34R62 - the code for the bottling line at Domaine de Ravanès.
This was our very first vintage and as such, it has been an endless source of surprises.
Firstly there was the terroir, the place known as Les Boissières, the very poorest soils in Montpeyroux, and then there was the Grenache – not the grape that first came to mind when I dreamed of making wine.
The marriage of the two was a revelation, to such an extent that we were convinced that terroir was not just a romantic notion, but a very real fact.
I have very few bottles of this vintage left, but every time I taste them, it is a joy.
Recently we have read online some exceptionally positive tasting notes (in french) about DIVEM 2000 (which is always gratifying), suggesting that in 2012, this wine could easily age for another 5 – 10 years.
As I've only got about 10 left in my cellar, I'll have to eke them out...
The word "Montpeyroux" figures on the label.
Thus, 1176 more bottles were made within the appellation in this year.
A very lovely wine which was very much enjoyed in its youth, but at the time of writing, it is the most atypical of all the DIVEM vintages.
Close-knit tannins and a very solid structure that could be described as austere.
I always believed that this wine would open up eventually. However, after 10 years, I was beginning to lose hope.
In 2012 I tasted a bottle of 2001, as I do, once a year.
It was still a bit firm but...
... there were signs of opening up!
Undoubtedly, the wine had started to mellow.
I put the rest of the bottle into a carafe and gave one to Clotaire Gaillard, a sommelier and manager of the Terrasse du Mimosa restaurant in Montpeyroux, who had just ordered some DIVEM 2008 from me.
Spending time in a carafe helped round out the 2001.
It was astonishing how this wine's aromas were lightly evolved, and yet on the palate it was still very fresh and could be mistaken for a younger wine.
It was a joy.
A few weeks later, I met Clotaire and Nicolas Bertrand (the chef at La Terrasse du Mimosa and also a sommelier), and they told me they had thoroughly enjoyed the 2001 the previous evening.
So we're agreed: this wine is ready. It has taken 12 years, but it would seem that the 2001 is finally opening up.
It's just a shame there's so little left.
933 bottles made!
Not many people have tasted this wine.
This wine is so concentrated that I decided to leave it in barrel another year, in other words, for 30 months instead of the usual 18.
Finally, it was bottled the same day as DIVEM 2003.
Bottling didn't agree with it: the wine took more than a year to settle, and we released DIVEM 2003 for sale before DIVEM 2002.
However, after this less-than-promising start, 2002 has gone on to become what I consider to be the greatest DIVEM vintage to date.
A silky textured, highly concentrated wine which has enough acidity to give it great freshness and length, and a rare elegance.
A truly great wine amongst wines: once tasted, never forgotten.
In both cases, the wine had hardly aged at all. Unbelievable freshness and an explosion of flavour in the mouth.
A highly seductive vintage.
Round, long, fruit-forward and deep. A delicious vintage.
So easy to drink that it sold very quickly.
A rather difficult year in the vineyard (France experienced a serious heatwave) but the grapes came in healthy and the vinification was problem-free.
A very hot year, so acidity levels were down, and the ageing potential was similarly diminished.
Unlike 2002, our latest tasting of 2003 showed a wine that, in my opinion, is starting to decline.
Carafing for an hour helped revive it.
My advice: if you have some 2003, drink it now. It is still very pleasant but will not improve.
A very fine, elegant, poised vintage.
A wine that has found favour but which is very different to previous vintages. It lacks the first impression of great substance that tends to characterise DIVEM.
2004 is all about perfume and elegance.
However, although these elements are present, they express themselves very differently. A great deal of freshness, and an incredible length.
There were certainly some unusual circumstances in 2004, but I cannot attribute the specificity of this vintage to those events.
We were unpleasantly surprised when we pruned our vines. Most of the Grenache shoots were dry, apparently dead.
The heatwave of 2003 had left its mark.
Following the advice of a wise winegrower from Saint-Chinian, I pruned closely without completely removing the dried shoots. A few vines gave up, but in most cases the buds at the base grew back again, so I thank that winegrower for his words of wisdom.
Another unpleasant surprise: in July, a colony of grasshoppers arrived in Les Boissières, and the epicentre this catastrophe was my parcel of vines.
These were large grasshoppers similar to those found in Africa (10 – 12 cm), around 10 of them per square metre.
I contacted the local authorities, who told me that because the grasshopper is not officially recognised as a pest in France, there is no designated treatment or action.
In other words, it was forbidden to attack these insects.
I called in some researchers from French agricultural research centre CIRAD who explained that apart from hoping and waiting for a serious rain storm, there was very little I could do.
I waited for the storms to come, and watched the grasshoppers eating the stems of the bunches of grapes, with a marked preference for Cinsault.
As forecast, in August a few heavy storms finally broke up the colony.
The vinification and maturation went fairly smoothly, and we made just over 3000 bottles of lively, fruity wine with great length.
As I observed recently, in 2012, DIVEM 2004 has stood the test of time. It is still as fresh as a one-year-old wine.
In 2005 the pregnant woman symbol made its first appearance on our labels.
As in 2002, the incredible structure and substance of this vintage meant it needed more than a year's maturation in barrel (we gave it 30 months).
Bottled the same day as the 2006, these evolution of these two wines has been diametrically opposed.
The vinification process for the 2005 was a nightmare. The fermentation got stuck on several occasions.
The wine spent the winter in barrel with a little over 10 grammes of residual sugar.
I put it back into tank in the spring, hoping that fermentation would start again as the temperatures rose.
This is indeed what happened, but in an incomplete fashion: the fermentation got stuck again with just under 6 grammes of sugar left in the wine.
In the end, I used a few buckets of 2006 which was fermenting nicely to kick-start the fermentation of the 2005 and get rid of some of its sugars.
It was an agonising time, and on several occasions I wondered whether I should send the whole lot to the distillery.
In the end, this is an incredibly powerful wine that is still relatively untamed by 30 months in barrel.
It's a suprising wine that is well-described by Jérôme Pérez, of website La passion du vin : "Very concentrated on the palate, but smooth. [...]. It's good, in fact very good, but I have to say, rather surprising."
This is why it pays to be patient.
Commenting on the same website, those who tasted this wine in 2012 have no complaints.
Others have also found pleasure in this wine, and the next.
A vintage that is has many similarities with 2003.
Very concentrated, but easy to drink and quite delicious
The kind of vintage that every winegrower dreams of. The vinification was problem-free from start to finish.
A text-book fermentation: temperatures that rose just as they should, and the fermentation stopped by itself, when all the sugar had been consumed.
This wine has plenty of character but like the 2003, it should be drunk now: don't wait too long.
Our last year of small-scale production. After this, the domaine grew bigger.
1600 bottles; I hardly saw them go by.
A very concentrated wine with very good acidity, and great freshness on the palate.
Despite the very low production levels, this was the year that DIVEM was put into magnum for the first time.
Recent tasting shows that this wine is still in its youth.
Fresh and fruity, it can be enjoyed now but its acidity means it will age successfully for several years.
Like 2002 and 2005, this vintage needed 30 months in barrel instead of the usual 18.
Amazing body and substance.
Perhaps the addition of 3 hectolitres of Mourvèdre and 8 hectolitres of Syrah from Les Pradels has something to do with it?
Production levels were up, but the yields were the same (around 12 hl/ha).
The fermentation was quite uneven (it got stuck several times) but happily the Mourvèdre, harvested very late, gave us the ability to restart and finish off the sugar.
Unlike the 2005, the 30 months in barrel transformed this wine.
One of the characteristics of the 2008 is its oxydative style, which is not so popular these days. It's not longer fashionable.
A neighbouring winegrower told me that this wine made me look like I was 10 years behind in terms of winemaking.
If we're talking trends, I'd prefer to think that I'm 20 years ahead of my time...
Like the 2007, the 2008 is available in magnum, but also in jeroboam.
Lower yields compared to 2008. From our 3 hectares within the appellation zone, we just managed to get 30 hectolitres.
It was difficult to get more than 10 hl/ha.
A very concentrated wine, obviously, but with good acidity, which indicates good ageing potential.
A shorter passage in barrel than for the 2008 (only 18 months).
This powerful, distinguished wine graces the tables of Michelin-starred restaurant La Maison Troisgros.
The AOC Coteaux du Languedoc classification is no longer used, now we declare this wine as AOP Languedoc – but we still mention Montpeyroux.
This vintage is poised and elegant, similar to 2004 and 2007.
It's a powerful wine though – the label says 15.5° ABV. The regulations allows us half a degree of difference between what's written on the label and the official results. These results (which can be downloaded from the website) show a figure of 15.97° ABV, so we squeak through (but only just).
On the other hand, there's a level of acidity that's rarely found in the DIVEM range which gives the wine great balance and exceptional ageing potential. But when talking about acidity, everything's relative, of course – this is Languedoc, after all.
All things considered, this wine was pretty well received. Tasters at Belgian wine magazine In Vino Veritas fell in love with it, dubbing it their “coup de cœur,” and the wine writers at Les 5 du Vin gave it a very complimentary review which I like to reread when I'm feeling down.
This was the first year we made Les Initiales de DIVEM, and it wasn't a very productive one. All in all, we made only 1600 bottles of DIVEM 2011.
A most unusual vintage. Almost a degree less alcohol compared to previous years, but no explanation as to why that would be. The phenolic ripeness was there, for sure. Like many of my fellow Montpeyroux growers, I had wondered how this vintage was going to turn out.
But in the end, this wine was the most seductive of the DIVEM range. And that's not just my opinion: I started selling it on September 15, 2014, and by November 15th I'd sold the very last bottle!
An outstanding vintage in Languedoc. A truly special year. It's important to make this point, because it was such a dreadful year in other parts of France, and it wouldn't do to imagine that this was the case for us. It's unusual to get both quality and quantity, but that's what happened in 2013. So the outlook for this vintage is really very good: it's a wine to keep, for sure.
This was a year of contrasts.
Firstly, it was a year without any coulure in the Grenache vines, which is very rare, particularly for older vines. It's always sad when coulure occurs, because no-one like to see grapes fail to develop, but at least this way the bunches get plenty of air which reduces the likelihood of cryptogamic diseases like mildew and botrytis. Then with a good blast of dry, northerly Mistral wind and the bunches are neatly cleaned up and don't have any fungus, not even between the individual berries.
The yields turned out to be quite high, despite some serious pruning, just as we do every year. So in the end, we had a large quantity of huge bunches. Not ideal really, when we're aiming for lower yields. And so, at the end of July, we did some drastic green harvesting, dropping almost half the bunches.
At the beginning of September (the 6th, to be precise), I started by harvesting the early-ripening varieties (Merlot and Syrah), as I do each year. The ripeness of one particular plot of Grenache was very advanced, with a potential ABV of 16.4°, so I decided to pick that too, and to leave the other Grenache vines another week or two.
Big mistake. From September 10th we had no less than 12 heavy rain storms, which meant more than a month of pretty much uninterrupted rain. Harvesting the grapes turned into a nightmare. We had to juggle to find brief windows of respite from the apocalyptic weather, and we had to work super-fast, because botrytis was starting to set in. We had to write off half a hectare of grapes (which is a lot for me). In contrast to other years, when the blends for DIVEM and Les Initiales de DIVEM are the same (the only difference being the barrel ageing that DIVEM undergoes), this time I kept that tank of early-picked Grenache grapes for DIVEM.
And thus, Les Initiales de DIVEM ended up with the grapes that had been picked in the rain, and it is indeed a lighter wine, compared to other vintages (but everything's relative). It shows 15.2° ABV and the final yields were 18 hl/ha (instead of the more usual 12 hl/ha).
However, as far as DIVEM is concerned, there isn't a huge difference compared to other years. It's a very concentrated wine, with perhaps a little less tension than the 2013, and so maybe it has less ageing potential. But looking on the bright side, it can be enjoyed that much sooner.
Our wines are neither filtered not fined.
Although they contain sulfites, the levels are very low.
All vintages of DIVEM contain less than 60 mg per litre of SO2 total, which is low when compared with the levels authorised for organic wines (100 mg/l) and very low compared with levels allowed by French legislation (150 mg/l).
This was our domaine's first wine and until 2012, it was our only Montpeyroux cuvée; in 2012, we created a second Montpeyroux appellation wine, called les initiales de DIVEM, to join DIVEM.
Up until 2007, DIVEM was made up of 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah and a few bunches of Cinsault, picked here and there (apologies to those who like nice round figures).
From the 2008 vintage onwards, the domaine's production area practically tripled when we bought a hectare of Grenache, coupled with the first fruit being picked from a hectare of Syrah and Mourvèdre that I had planted a few years previously.
The idea was to make an extremely concentrated wine.
To achieve this, we did everything to get very low yields (12 – 15 hl/ha, depending on the vintage), and maximum extraction, with a period of around 8 weeks in tank for the Grenache.
As tasting confirms, we certainly have a wine with plenty of body.
To round out the tannins, the grapes are sorted and destemmed but not crushed, to make fermentation as slow as possible.
Under such conditions, the malolactic fermentation begins when sugar is still present, which inevitably increases the levels of volatile acidity. It's a shame this method is ruled out by most oenologists, because the results are really something.
A period of 18 – 30 months in barrel serves to tame things a little.
Otherwise, we pick by hand, pump over daily, and punch down from the third week in tank.
In 2010 we brought out CARPE DIVEM, a top quality table wine.
For those who are interested, here are some technical spec sheets